Another solo trip planned. I asked around my friends but no takers, though 2 thought it a great idea but that my timing did not suit them. They did a version of it in December instead. On the other hand it was not as solo as I expected. When expressing Christmas greetings with by brother Ben I discovered he also had a trip to Patagonia planned, and that we would overlap, being in the same place at the same time for a few days. A nice surprise.
Anyway the plan was for a two part trip. Firstly some day hiking in El Chalten, Argentina and then by down to Torres de Paine in Chile and do the 8 day O circuit. Then home again.
The travel down took 24 hours but went pretty much as scheduled. Flew via Miami and Beunos Aires to El Calafate. Not much sleep but otherwise pretty smooth. Had upgraded to exit row seats so at least had plenty of leg room.
The final transfer from the airport to my hostel was a very good with the driver dropping off all his passengers, all hikers, at their various hostels around this very spread out little town.
Found brother Ben waiting for me, supper, very nice, lamb and polenta, orange crepes and a nice glass of Malbec, and also cheap $(us) 20!
Bed, comfortable and warm. 4 others crept in later. No snorers.
Next morning up at 6.30. Transfer to El Chalten arrived punctually at 7.30. Sunny but cool and breezy morning. Transfer took 3 hours (130k) with photo stops along the way. Mainly Koreans on the bus but also 3 Argentinos one of which I chatted to a bit. Before entering town we were taken to the park visitor centre for a talk on park etiquette.
Dropped off at my hostel, at the far end of town. Checked in, but too early (12 noon) to get into room. Left bag in the bag room and walked back thru the town (20 mins) to bus depot cum tourist info centre. Got some cash from as atm and directions to where B and L are staying, only 50 m away. They arrived just as I was leaving having left them a message. Arranged to meet later.
In the afternoon we did a nice small local hike up a small hill to a couple of viewing points. Lots of others on the trail, but only one large group so it did not seem crowded.
After hike stopped for a beer then went to our separate residences. Met up gain later for a very nice supper followed by an ice cream in a neighbouring parlour.
Bed by 10. 18k, 930 ft vertical, 22,300 steps.
Wednesday. Hike to Laguna Torre.
Met at 8.15 and off we went. A cool and slight overcast morning, just right for hiking.
As yesterday, lots of people on the trail. Trail easy to follow. Good signs at the junctions. Km posts so one knew how far one had gone. 10 k out and the same back.
Steady progress was made following a river
and the mountains got gradually closer, though their tops remained stubbornly covered by clouds. Most of the hike was in low trees, but there were some parts in nice old woods.
Eventually got to the lake and was suddenly hit by a strong cold wind.
We were, for some reason, surprised to see icebergs in the lake. But it is fed by a glacier, just visible at the far end of the lake.
We decided to try the extension to the look out at the far end of the lake, but it was very exposed to the wind and half way there we had had enough and so started back.
Before we left the lake we were delighted to see about 8 condors wheeling about above us.
When about half way back suddenly the sun came out for a while really making the snow a the glacier shine out.
There some flowers still out
And several small birds like this one
At the end of the hike, as we came out into the valley we were again hit by the wind. I am gaining a healthy respect for the wind. It induces a chill factor of around 10C.
In the evening when we went out for dinner it seemed to be blowing a full gale. But at lest any rain showers are soon blown past.
Another great, and cheap, dinner. Lamb stew and rice for me. Then it was bed time.
Fitbit: 28k, 2700 ft vertical